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Actually, they  Naegleria fowleri – never went away … but they’re back in the news.  Nothing like a story about an organism that once in a blue moon gets inside someone’s nose (via pond water) and then, for no apparent reason, migrates up their olfactory nerves into the brain and starts eating.

These amoebas are found in fresh water, soil, thermal discharges of power plants, geothermal wells, and poorly-chlorinated swimming pools, according to the CDC.  Becoming infected with them is extremely rare, but also 98% fatal.

TOP:  The feeding structures of the amoeba Naegleria fowleri have a face-like appearance.  Image by D.T. John & T.B. Cole, Visuals Unlimited (via National Geographic News)

SECOND ROW:  Trophozoites of N. fowleri in culture.
(via Free Living Amebic)

Naegleria fowleri has three stages in its life cycle: cysts , trophozoites, and flagellated forms .

BOTTOM LEFT:  Trophozoite of Naegleria fowleri in CSF, stained with H&E.  Via wikidoc.   More laboratory images … 

BOTTOM RIGHT:   Histopathology of amoebic meningoencephalitis due to Naegleria fowleri. Direct fluorescent antibody stain.  [Wikipedia]

In humans, N. fowleri can invade the central nervous system via the nose (specifically through the olfactory mucosa and cribriform plate of the nasal tissues). The penetration initially results in significant necrosis of and hemorrhaging in the olfactory bulbs.

From there, the amoeba climbs along nerve fibers through the floor of the cranium via the cribriform plate and into the brain. The organism begins to consume cells of the brain piecemeal by means of a unique sucking apparatus extended from its cell surface.  {SEE TOP IMAGES]

It then becomes pathogenic, causing primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM or PAME). PAM usually occurs in healthy children or young adults with no prior history of immune compromise who have recently been exposed to bodies of fresh water.   (Naegleria fowleri - Wikipedia)

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    *scrolling along*"BRAIN EATING AMOEBAS!" *reads so hard*
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